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William Rivers Pitt: It Will All Be Over Soon

It Will All Be Over Soon

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Thursday 23 December 2004


Everyone can relax. This thing is clearly getting ready to wind down. Ask the brilliant minds up at the Pentagon. Back in April 2003, a formal Pentagon planning session stated emphatically that the U.S. occupation of Iraq would be coming to an end in December 2004. It is December by my calendar, so clearly we should start planning the tickertape parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

We can have Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seated in the lead car, and let the love and adoration of this nation wash over him like a bath of warm milk. Perhaps he will choose that glorious moment to reveal the 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 1,000,000 pounds of sarin, mustard and VX gas, and the 30,000 munitions to deliver the stuff we all went to war for in the first place. We can festoon the Canyon with plastic sheeting and duct tape. It'll be a party of historic proportions.

Hopefully the good Secretary can come; he has been, after all, too busy to sign condolence letters for the 1,321 American soldiers who have died since the Iraq invasion began. He has, instead, used a mechanical signature writer to put his name to the papers that let grieving family members know that he does, in fact, appreciate their sacrifice. 141 troops died in November, the worst month of the war, and 64 have died so far in December, including a whole mess tent full of them yesterday.

Surely Don can make it to the parade. His Pentagon couldn't have been wrong about the whole deal being done in December, because he is far too smart. Never mind that Senator McCain is calling for another 100,000 troops to be sent to Iraq. One wonders where the Senator thinks we will get those soldiers. Perhaps we could abandon Afghanistan, Europe and the Korean DMZ to throw every warm body into the fray. Perhaps there is some deep black program we don't know about that allows the military to hatch fully grown, fully trained soldiers like chickens on a production line. Perhaps any young people reading this should make sure their Selective Service cards are close at hand. Never fear, though. It'll all be over sometime this month.

Don may have a few other things on his mind these days besides the impending completion of our Iraq mission. He is about to be charged as a war criminal by a German court. James Ridgeway of the Village Voice describes it this way: "A German court is in the early stages of hearing a case brought by German and American public-interest groups accusing Rumsfeld of being a war criminal because of his handling of the Abu Ghraib prison. The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Berlin's Republican Lawyers Association filed their complaint November 30 on behalf of four Iraqis allegedly mistreated by American soldiers."

"Officials may tend to take these war-criminal suits a bit more seriously than in the past," continues Ridgeway, "because of the ongoing efforts to press Chile in prosecuting former dictator Augusto Pinochet. 'Many people who may readily accept the indictments of present or former high officials for fraud or embezzlement are apt to balk at such indictments for war crimes, particularly if they are brought in a foreign country,' says the German complaint. 'But the former Chilean dictator Pinochet would never have been arrested in London in 1998 if human rights organizations and prosecutors had only been driven by precedent and realism.'"

Don may not find it comfortable to hear his name mentioned in the same sentence as Pinochet. He might skip the parade for fear of arrest. Perhaps we can get him a bunk with Henry Kissinger, who has successfully evaded arrest for war crimes since the first Nixon administration. The two of them can compare notes about remaining anonymous in crowds. They can commiserate about how foolish people are for not understanding that death on a massive scale is a necessary cost of doing business. They can talk about all the places they cannot go beyond America's borders for fear of some international court slapping the bracelets on them. No worries. There are plenty of good restaurants in New York.

Perhaps Don and Henry can go to Iraq ­ where they might get bombed but won't get arrested ­ and help run the January 30th election. The process certainly needs some help. The nuns used to tell me that whenever any two or three people gather together in prayer, Christ will be there with them. In Iraq today, any two or three people gathered together to organize the election, or to sign up for the Iraqi National Guard, will almost certainly have a man with a bomb or a machine gun with them. It will be tough to run an election when any crowd large or small is likely to be met by a car laden with explosives.

The poet Stephen Dunn wrote a poem titled 'To a Terrorist' for a collection released in 1989. In it, he writes, "I hate your good reasons. I hate the hatefulness that makes you fall / in love with death, your own included." You have to wonder, fifteen years later, who is best suited to read those lines. Suicide bombers in Palestine and Iraq and Saudi Arabia can be said to love death, but what of us? What of mighty America, which as Dunn says in his poem, "thinks its terror is meant / only to mean well, and to protect"?

Have we fallen in love with death, too? Buy one of those paramilitary video games, watch prime time television for an hour, or try to rectify the fact that a new Washington Post poll has 70% of Americans believing the cost in flesh and treasure of the Iraq war has been "unacceptable," and yet somehow enough of those people thought the whole thing acceptable enough to vote for its continuation less than two months ago.

Do any or all of those things, and then tell me how it is we really haven't fallen in love with death. Christ's final edict ­ "Forgive them, Lord, they know not what they do" ­ has no purchase here. We know what we are doing, and we are doing it anyway. No fear. It will all be over by the end of the month.


William Rivers Pitt is the senior editor and lead writer for truthout. He is a New York Times and international bestselling author of two books - 'War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know' and 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence.'

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